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Monday, August 31, 2015

My Responses to the Emma Read Along, volume 3 (sort of)

It's time for my final thoughts (for this year, at least) on Jane Austen's EMMA -- and I basically threw my discussion questions out the window and gave you a Jane Austen sales pitch. Enjoy! ;)

Read Along Discussion Questions:
Vol I: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/08/emma-read-along-discussion-questions.html
Vol II: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/08/emma-read-along-volume-2-discussion.html
Vol III: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/08/emma-read-along-discussion-questions_29.html

My Responses:
Vol I: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/08/emma-read-along-vol-1-my-responses.html
Vol II: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/08/emma-read-along-vol-ii-my-responses.html
Vol III: you're watching it. . .

More Austen videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEUvLqnSRCq2uYNEUXd2iKNyajcLeQTzS

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Bad Boys & Bitches Redux, part 2: the Bad Boys | a colorful conversation

As you're probably aware by now, every year I gather some Austen authors together and ask them a series of playful, weird or otherwise BookRat-y questions about Jane Austen. I then take those answers, split them up, and work them into a conversation between all of the authors (and myself), like we're sitting around in a Regency parlor, gabbing.
This year, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite former "colorful" questions, about Austen's bad boys and girls, but with Austen in August readers instead of the featured authors. This is part one of the result.
I asked:
Same question as the ladies, but for the men: who would win the title of biggest, baddest Austen rake?

MISTY: We all know I don't always go the traditional route on this, but how about the rest of you?
KAYLA: Wickham.
BOOKS & BABBLE:  Definitely Wickham, 100%
DEBBIE: John Thorpe is the absolute worst - not only bad but stupid.
BETH: Wickham. He's absolutely unredeemable. Even Willoughby realizes his mistakes and regrets his actions. But Wickham is just a navel-gazing YOLO boy for life.
SOBOTHERSOME: Wickham would lose hence he's really terrible at everything he does not to mention his gambling would eventually lead to his demise
MISTY:  So. . . Wickham, then? ;)
CERI: Wickham is controlled by his weakness for money and though he's scored a big point by ending up being related by marriage to Darcy, he will pay for it in having to put up with Lydia!
JESSICA: In a physical fight it would be captain Tilney. To me he would just shot them and be done with it. He to me wouldn't even blink an eye. He has so much malice in his heart that one wonders if he even has one.
CERI: Frederick Tilney is the worst one I think, because he's still free as a bird at the end of NA.
MISTY: VERY good point!
CERI: In the 2007 adaptation (which is fantastic, for anybody who hasn't watched it) it's clear that he has completely ruined a young lady in both deed and reputation and couldn't care less about it, but in the book it's possible that he isn't that bad, and it might just be expectation raised but not fulfilled.
MISTY: But either way, he's an ass. Any other good contenders?
SOPHIA:  Ooh, yeah, that's a toughy. However, in keeping with my Persuasion bad girl, I'll go with the matched set and back Mr. Elliot of the smarmy smiles and speeches fame who married for wealth, stole it from his best friend leaving his widow poverty stricken, and schemed to block Mrs. Clay while setting up to take over the Elliot family title and land as soon as Sir Walter takes the dirt nap. A rat's work is never done, whew!
JULIE: Mr Elliot is a slimeball. He is the worst! His flirting in Persuasion makes me sick now that I know how terrible he is.
VERONIKA: Sir Walter Elliot, because Anthony Head.
MISTY:You know, that I can completely agree with. I mean, I love Giles, but damn. He played him like he might secretly be an axe murderer. . .
BRANDY: If I try to think of the biggest rake as the one who actually wins by being a rake, I guess I have to go with John Willoughby because he manages to marry the wealthy Sophia even after impregnating Colonel Brandon’s ward and breaking Marianne's heart.
CERI: Willoughby is pretty horrible, he's ruined at least one girl and trifles badly with Marianne, but he is redeemed a little by genuinely caring for her.
BRANDY: He's smooth enough to eventually make Elinor, the one person who had been suspicious of him, feel for him in the situation he created for himself. Sure, he claims to have loved Marianne and loses in the sense that he'll have a loveless marriage without her, but one wonders if he can really love anyone but himself. He only says otherwise because he needs to have every woman in range think of him as charming. Between the appropriate wealthy wife and getting back into his aunt's good graces, he manages to be rewarded for using his charm to avoid negative consequences.

Beth W
Books and Babble
Ceri at Babblings of a Bookworm
Jessica Bolton (bookrockgoddess)
Julie H
Sophia Rose

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Austen Quickies: 3 quick looks at recent Austenesque releases

Welp, we're down to our final day of Austen in August!
Today is a double video day, and I'm kicking it off with some quick thoughts on three unusual Austenesque books!

Maggie's HILARIOUS guest post

More Austen videos

Emma: an Emotions Primer
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Step into the drama filled world of Jane Austin’s Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer. Your little one will learn about the meddling Emma Woodhouse, who takes it upon herself to become the village matchmaker, creating all sorts of feelings in others. Her friend’s emotions include Mr. Elton being angry, Miss Taylor becoming happy, while Jane Fairfax is tired.

JENNIFER ADAMS is the author of a dozen books including Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen and the popular Y Is for Yorick: A Slightly Irreverent ABC Book for Grown-Ups. Jennifer works as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City, Utah.

ALISON OLIVER runs Sugar design studio. Alison's design portfolio includes everything from logos to packaging and product design for clients such as Chronicle Books, Citibabes, and Aerie, as well as Gibbs Smith. She lives in New York.

Jane Austen Cover to Cover
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Jane Austen’s six novels are true classics, still immensely popular some 200 years after their first publication. But although the celebrated stories never change, the covers are always different. Jane Austen Cover to Cover compiles two centuries of design, from elegant Victorian hardcovers and the famed 1894 “Peacock” edition to 1950s pulp, movie tie-in editions, graphic novels, foreign-language translations, and many, many others. Filled with beautiful artwork and insightful commentary, this fascinating and visually intriguing collection is a must for Janeites, design geeks, and book lovers of every stripe. 

First & Then
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Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

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Bad Boys & Bitches Redux, part 1: the Bitches | a colorful conversation

As you're probably aware by now, every year I gather some Austen authors together and ask them a series of playful, weird or otherwise BookRat-y questions about Jane Austen. I then take those answers, split them up, and work them into a conversation between all of the authors (and myself), like we're sitting around in a Regency parlor, gabbing.
This year, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite former "colorful" questions, about Austen's bad boys and girls, but with Austen in August readers instead of the featured authors. This is part one of the result. [Find part two here]
I asked:
Which Austen bitch / bad girl (think Isabella Thorpe, Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Reynolds Mrs. Norris, etc) would win in a catfight / bitchfest?
CERI: It really made me giggle that you put Mrs Reynolds as a bitch/bad girl!
MISTY: Haha! *laughs until actual tears come* Oops.
CERI: Maybe she made a bet with the butler against Mr Darcy marrying Anne de Bourgh and wanted to make sure she bigged him up to the ladies :)
MISTY: Someone write this into a fan fic, pls! Haha! But now, to the task at hand: I've tried defending these. . .err, ladies before, but sometimes there's just no defense. So who would win in a claws-out drag-down or an Ice Queen freeze-out?
SOBOTHERSOME: Caroline bingley cuz she would stare at them to death or something!
DEBBIE: I feel like right down to the last few days before Darcy and Lizzie's wedding, she was probably fighting for her non-existent right to mend his pens.
MISTY: Oh, that is the case, with absolutely zero doubt in my mind. And then after the wedding, I'm sure she made as much of a point as possible to prove that she never wanted Darcy, and that he was somehow beneath her, or something. . .
BOOKS & BABBLE: *nods* Caroline Bingley, especially when played by Kelly Riley.
JESSICA: I have to say if it came down to a physical fight it would be Caroline Bingley hands down. I think she would be the most vicious of them all. I can see spitting, biting, hair pulling and eye gouging. She is so that high school mean girl with fake nails and to high opinion of herself. She would act like a over pissed cat and attack with everything she had.
SOPHIA: At first, my mind leaped toward Caro Bingley and Fanny Dashwood, but then on second thought, I saw Mrs. Clay sidling along in the shadows looking for her greedy little opportunity and yep, my money's on that one.
MISTY: Hmm. . . You might have something there, actually. I did say she was a slippery one.
SOPHIA: She'll sucker punch you in the kidneys from behind and you'll have never seen her coming past all that groveling and sneaking about she does.
MISTY: It's scary, how much I can actually see that happening!
BETH: The Cold Fish Bitch Queen of Austen has GOT to be Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Closely followed by Caroline Bingley, simply because she runs hot and cold.
KAYLA: Lady Catherine de Bough would take everyone else down. Except for Lizzie of course ;P
BRANDY: In my mind, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is the original mean girl. She'll set everyone against her foe with so many whispers from all directions that most people will forget she's even the instigator. When she's in the mood, she'll sweep into a room and lock on her target with rapid-fire questions and sudden topic changes to keep that person off-balance, and she relies on her fawning fans to go before her so that everyone will understand her word is law by the time she enters the room.
MISTY: Now there's a truth universally acknowledged. . . By her and everyone she conveniently thinks for, anyway. But if not the Grand Ol' Dame, then. . .?
CERI: Mary Crawford, definitely! She has been in society in London so she's learned the tricks of Town. I can't imagine a man pulling the wool over her eyes so in that respect she beats Isabella. Caroline Bingley is quite often bested in her sniping—
MISTY: That is true. . .
CERI: . . . and I think Mary Crawford would make mincemeat of her. She is also one of Austen's 'bad' characters that I secretly really admire. She is often described as being the bad version of Elizabeth Bennet and there are certainly similarities in wit and intelligence. Elizabeth is my favourite Austen character and these similarities probably explain why I have the soft spot for the Crawfords. Maria Bertram is a nasty piece of work but very naive. Mary would have her in a headlock in no time.
JULIE: Lucy Stelle might not win the actual fight. She would probably disappear halfway through then reappear after the finish, just as all the other ladies are recovering, in some fashionable way to try and show them up. (Hopefully they would join forces to take her down).
MISTY: I could see her being scrappy. AND she'd have her sister to drag into the mix -- tag team!
VERONIKA: Augusta Elton: Nobody could win against her, coz she'd be too self centered to realise there's even a fight going on. Or, she would bore everyone to death by telling them how best to fight.
MISTY: Haha! That's true, too! Well, now I don't know what to think. Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comments!

Beth W
Books and Babble
Ceri at Babblings of a Bookworm
Jessica Bolton (bookrockgoddess)
Julie H
Sophia Rose

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jane in Your Interwebs

Throughout the remaining eleven months of the year that are not August, I'm constantly pinning, bookmarking and saving various Austen things to share with you. Some of them you may have seen; some of them you may have shared with me. But my hope is that some of these things will be new to you, to amuse you while we wile away the long monthsdayshoursminutes until the next Austen in August. I call this;

* Perhaps my favorite (but also most frustrating) piece on Austen to come out in the last year is this recent piece on Buzzfeed, "If Jane Austen Got Feedback from Some Guy in a Writing Workshop". It's. . .painful, but spot-on.
"Mrs. Bennett is annoying, and you don’t have any people of color. Also, there aren’t a lot of men in this book. Only about the same number as there are women. I was thinking that what you could do is have Mrs. Bennett be dying, but give her a black best friend. Like Othello? (Have you read it? It’s also by Shakespeare, fwiw.) The Othello character could be her butler, maybe? There you go: three problems solved. You’re welcome!"
Buzzfeed also shared
* 43 Most Romantic Lines from Literature, of which of course some were from Austen (obvs)
21 of the Wisest Things Austen Ever Said
23 signs your Austen addiction is getting out of hand, as if you didn't know already. . .
* and Things That Austen Characters Can Get Away With, That You Can't.

You're welcome.

Audible shared this music-scape on soundcloud, so you can, you know, put it on in the background and pretend to be Lizzie Bennet, I guess.
BookBub spotlighted some modern interpretations of Austen, if that's your thing.
The HuffPo looked at Austen as a feminist icon, which again, obvs. They also used Austen to give you the life advice you've always wanted.
Hello Giggles / Chloe Campbell
Hello Giggles has a little Jane Austen binge, with this Austen-inspired (but totally wearable) hair tutorial, these five timeless lessons from Austen, and advice on how to host your own Austen Girls Night (yes please!)

* The BBC has a movie about the scandalous Lady Worsley coming out (a contemporary of Austen, whose lifestyle you will not find in her books), so to prepare us and help us understand the world these two women lived in, they've shared 5 facts about life in Austen's era.
And lastly, I may have shared this before, I really don't know, but the youtube channel Milday Macy shared this video, Shit Stuff Austen Says. Enjoy!

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Feature: Darcy's Hope — Beauty from Ashes: a P&P Great War Romance by Ginger Monette

One of my favorite things about Austen in August is discovering new authors and stories to add to my own reading list. Throughout the two weeks, I glean recommendations from your guest posts and from the comments on posts, vlogs and Twitter telling me all about your own favorites, and books or authors I must look into.
But on top of all that, the wall-to-wall Austen action helps Austen writers to find me, and ask how they can become a part of this big ol' Austen family we've created here. And I love that. Even when the timeline is tight and we're running out of August, whenever that happens, I always try to squeeze said authors in -- not only because I want to know more about their books and their interpretations, but because I don't want you to miss out on finding out about them!
So, to that end, today we welcome a new member to our Austenesque family here on Austen in August, in the form of one Ginger Monette. Ginger's Great War-era retelling is coming out this September, and to give you a taste, I've got a little feature of it, complete with book trailer, blurb, teaser excerpt, and a mini-Q&A.
Click through to check it all out, and maybe add a new JAFF book to your to-read list!

Excerpt from
Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
by Ginger Monette

Elizabeth quickened her pace to the overlook, anxious to read the letter from Jane. She settled in her favourite spot, leaning against a sprawling oak with a magnificent view of the canal below. Lieutenant Bingley had been back in Boulogne for nearly a week, so surely there would be news.

Scanning the letter Elizabeth squealed in delight. A wedding—next week! And Jane begged that she come. So soon? Oh, but did Charles have to ask Darcy to stand up with him? Elizabeth grunted. Could she not go anywhere and be away from the man? Even the wedding date was chosen to coincide with the captain's meeting in Boulogne to ensure his presence. Why in the world would Charles, who must have plenty of friends, pick sour-grapes Darcy?

Could The Yank be right? Could the captain's time in the trenches and his losses at the Somme have profoundly affected him? She often heard horror stories of things soldiers had seen and experienced that left them numb. She huffed under her breath. Certainly that was not the case with Captain Darcy. He was stone cold by nature with an impenetrable heart—no—he told her once he loved her. And that first day she nursed him, he kindly consoled her about her mother and sister. There must be something beating in that broad chest of his. What difference did it make? She shook off the thoughts as she refolded Jane's letter. Darcy had ruined her family, and she wanted nothing to do with him.

She raised her chin and gazed over the distant meadow. The morning sun shimmering off the water in canal below and the quaint windmill on the adjacent rise beckoned her. She had never ventured down the face of the bluff to the canal, but she had plenty of time today, and the May weather was glorious.

Inching her way down, she steadied herself on rocks and branches protruding here and there, nearly losing her balance on the loose embankment. Finally reaching the bottom, she started towards the waterway. Rounding a knoll, she squinted into the sun at a tall silhouette of a Tommy peering down the canal through field glasses. Whatever he saw must have been intriguing, as he surveyed the horizon for quite some time. Nearing him, she opened her mouth to call out a greeting when a stick snapped under her foot. In one deft motion, the soldier whirled around and levelled his revolver at her.

“Don't shoot!” Elizabeth cried, pleading her hands in surrender. It was Captain Darcy.

Untitled:Users:useruser:Desktop:Darcy's Hope 2014-2015:Promo:Cover :Purchased images:Uniform Hunk_looking_left_1.png
“What are you doing here?” he barked, lowering the firearm and glaring at her with flashing eyes of steel.

Her heart pounding, she bit back, “Perhaps I could ask the same of you.” 

“That is not the point.” He reached out and grabbed her arm above the elbow, nearly shaking it in rage. “A lady has no business out here alone. There are men roaming about who have no thought for their future and would be only too happy to ravage an attractive woman such as yourself.”

She jerked her arm away. “I appreciate your concern, but I am quite capable of looking after myself. But it is nice to know you now consider me attractive as there was a time I wasn't handsome enough to tempt you...”

More Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote — guest post from Margaret C. Sullivan!

If you've been hanging around Austen in August this year, you've probably been enjoying Maggie's contributions to our yearly conversations (the most recent of which included Tom Hiddleston dancing, so. . .); if you've been hanging around AIA long enough, you've also enjoyed other awesome things from Ms. Sullivan, like the hilarious There Must Be Murder, the amazing Jane Austen Handbook, or that time she made Austen's heroes duke it out over their places Heroic Ranking Index.
Today she's at it again with (another) taste of snarky silliness inspired by her latest book, Jane Austen Cover to Cover (which I'll be talking about v. soon!)
Click through to check out the hilarity, but be warned: you may laugh embarrassingly. (I snorted.)

More Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote
By Margaret C. Sullivan

While writing Jane Austen Cover to Cover, I worked with a huge variety of editions of Jane Austen’s novels stretching over 200 years of publication--everything from first editions “in boards” (cardboard binding not meant to be permanent) to very recent editions created with 21st century style and design. I’ve been collecting Austen books with silly covers (and snarking them on AustenBlog) for years, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to feature many of these weird, wonderful, hilarious covers in the book along with the beautiful ones. You have to wonder what Jane Austen would have thought about them--or the scenes she might have written based on them (but didn’t).

Pride and Prejudice
Tor, 1994

Tor is best known for publishing science fiction novels, but their mass-market paperback editions of Jane Austen’s novels have more of a romance-novel sensibility. And they are still in print, if you are interested in your own copy of P&P starring Prince as Mr. Darcy. (Of course it’s Prince. Who else would wear a purple tailcoat?)

“Good morning, Miss Bennet.”

“Oh! Good morning, Mr. Darcy. I was not expecting you...oh my goodness, you are wearing a purple coat.”

“Is that a problem for you, Miss Bennet? By the way, your gown is very...ruffly.”

“No, I suppose not...Mr. Darcy! Please let go of my hand!”

“I get delirious when you hold my hand, body gets so weak I can hardly stand.”

“...I beg your pardon?”

“I never seen a pretty girl look so tough, baby.”

“I have not the pleasure of understanding you, sir!”

“Dig if you will the picture of you and I engaged in a kiss.”

#AustenInAugust Twitter Chat Reminder!

Heads up, Tweeple! As AIA is almost over for another year (frowny face), it is time for our wrap-up Twitter chat! I'll be hopping on Twitter tonight at 8:30 pm Eastern to chat about this year's read along (Emma), this year's awesome posts, upcoming Austen adaptations, and all things Awesomely Austen, and I do hope you'll join me!

You can follow along or join in yourself with the hashtag #AustenInAugust.
Hope to see you there!

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: Suddenly Mrs Darcy by Jenetta James

Suddenly Mrs. Darcy by Jenetta James
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200 pages
Published April 2015 by Meryton Press
Elizabeth Bennet never imagined her own parents would force her to marry a virtual stranger.

But when Mrs. Bennet accuses Fitzwilliam Darcy of compromising her daughter, that is exactly the outcome. Trapped in a seemingly loveless marriage and far from home, she grows suspicious of her new husband’s heart and further, suspects he is hiding a great secret. Is there even a chance at love given the happenstance of their hasty marriage?

I mentioned yesterday, in Jenetta's AIA guest post, that some of my favorite Pride & Prejudice what-if scenarios include a reluctant (on Elizabeth's part) marriage between Lizzie & Darcy, especially when it's thought that Darcy has compromised Lizzie.
I'm not going to try to psychoanalyze that too much, but I think for the most part, the reasons this scenario appeal to me are:
  • We still get to see a good bit of the falling-in-love and the realizing-I've-been-an-idiot thing that Darcy & Lizzie both do; it's a large part of what makes P&P shine in the first place, and it's often not there in JAFF, either because it's a sequel (so those things are already past) or because they fall in love some other way (so that delicious tension is gone)
  • It often plays on a major misunderstanding, which is something at the core of P&P, so it feels reminiscent of that, and it's fun to see how it all comes together
  • Darcy & Lizzie are normally at cross purposes in these scenarios, and completely unaware of what the other is actually thinking or feeling, and that is always delightful. 
  • And of course, then there's the amazing payoff when they start to actually pay attention to what's going on, rather than what they think is going on, and start to see each other with clear eyes -- and THAT is what we're all always waiting for.
  • (Also, it suits the time, so it's interesting to explore what would have been a fact for many young women, and could have been a fact for D&L, given the right set of circumstances, which these books try to provide)
So it's a scenario that could go really wrong and into creep-territory, but that works on a lot of levels that echo many threads of the original, but dialed up to 11.

It is also a very tricky scenario to pull off -- which is probably part of why I like it -- as it can easily go into creepy/rapey/Stockholm Syndrome-y territory. It's a risk, but a fascinating one, and I like to see how it plays out in the hands of different JAFF authors. In this case, Lizzie is forced to marry Darcy by her very angry parents, after Mrs. Bennet stumbles upon them at Netherfield Ball, alone in a semi-secluded area, with Darcy bent towards Lizzie in a whispered debate about Wickham, in a way Mrs B. mistakes for a kiss (or, as Lizzie repeatedly thinks to her chagrin, in a way her mother pretends to have mistaken for a kiss, so that she could force their wedding & the family's security). It's a good, fairly believable and rather innocent take on the "compromised" scenario, which I appreciate, and for the most part, I enjoyed it.

Now, I'm not sure if it was just the mood I was in, or the general quick pace of the writing, but Suddenly Mrs. Darcy pulled me along pretty happily, even over things that would generally really bother me. The writing style is very heavy on telling over showing; that pretty much is the writing style. There is no "show, don't tell" here -- the reader is told how Lizzie, Darcy and those around him react to things ("I was affronted") rather than being shown what happens and determining for ourselves (Hmm, Darcy just did X rude thing, and now Lizzie is acting like Y; bet she was rather affronted by that). Same for transitions between scenes, character thoughts, big events, etc. Though this style may move along very quickly, it doesn't leave you with much of a story, or with the potential, as a reader, to build the story in your head and make it your own as you read, in that great collaborative way that readers do. It's the bones of the story, lacking the juiciest pieces of meat.

NORMALLY, I would be very, very bothered by this. In fact, normally, it would make me set a book to the side. It's not necessarily that I consider telling over showing bad writing, as I consider it not-quite-writing; I think of it as shallow, early-stage writing that's just lacking in the development and character that make for style and substance, and normally I would just set it to the side. But the thing is, for all that it sometimes felt like surface-writing, that never dug too deep, it was still fun. As I said, it pulled me along very quickly, it was bright and engaging, and I was mostly able to gloss over the fact that everything was being handed to me instead of unfolding before me. (It probably helps, of course, that this is a retelling of a well-known & loved story with well-known & loved characters, so the things that were missing, I could supplement myself without even thinking about it. It was also heavily reminiscent of other JAFF I've read, so I probably plugged those elements in there, too.)

The only other thing that bothered me was the characterization, which was inconsistent and sometimes a little strained. Elizabeth, particularly, is a milquetoast, and though I can make allowances for Lizzie in this situation trying to make the most of it and "behave," as it were, I can only see her be meek and mild so much before it starts to bother me, and I want to beg for MY LIZZIE -- and I have a feeling Mr. Darcy would have the same reaction. (He did fall for her tartness, afterall.) But again, it was saved from bothering me too much by how quick and bright and fun it was.

So in the end, it's one of those weird reviews where I'm like, Look, I had issues, I'm not going to deny that, but damned if I didn't enjoy myself reading this. I flew through it and picked it up happily, so it was never one of those books where, once I put it down, I'm like, ughhh, do I have to pick it back up? It was never one where I kept counting pages to see how much more I had to slog through. No, it was flawed, as many, many Austenesque novels are flawed, but it was still damn fun despite that. And as it was the type of flawed that I think is generally overcome with time and experience, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what Ms. James does in the future. =)

Don't forget to check out Jenetta's Austen in August guest post!

Jenetta James is the nom de plume of a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. Suddenly Mrs Darcy is her first novel

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Emma Read Along Discussion Questions, vol III

Alright, we've come to the end, my friends. We are all done with our Emma, and since I know this is one of Austen's more contentious works, I'm looking forward to what everyone has to say!
Before I get into the last round of questions, I just want to thank everyone that read along or chimed in, and invite you to next year's read along, which I think I can pretty confidently say is going to be Sense & Sensibility. I mean, I'm going out on a limb here, but it's the only one we have done a read along of. . . ;)

If you missed any of the previous discussion questions, you can find them here [vol one | vol two]. But now, onto . . .
  • Overall Impressions: Alright, now that we've come to the end of the book, what are your overall impressions? Did you like it? Hate it?
  • Emma + Knightley 4ever? What are your thoughts on Emma and Knightley as a pairing? Are they a good match? Do you think they'll find lasting happiness and help each other to grow, or are they doomed? What did you think of the proposal, which some find too brief, and some find just right?
  • Vol III / Book Happenings: Discuss your favorite (or least favorite) events from volume III, and/or from the book overall. What were the standouts? Was there anything you didn't see coming, or that you wish had happened differently? Consider Box Hill, the strawberry-picking party, the run-in with "gypsies," revelations about Jane & Frank, Harriet & Knightley, etc.
  • Vol III / Book Characters: Did your perceptions of any of the characters change as you were reading, or in hindsight? Did you feel any characters underwent a role reversal, or would have benefited from one? Discuss your favorite and least favorite characters or aspects of characters.
  • Final thoughts? Any final thoughts on Emma? Questions or things you didn't understand in volume III, or the book overall? Would you reread it, or recommend it?

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List of 2015 Austenesque Works, a guest post from Beth

We've had plenty of fun goodies from Beth this Austen in August, but today marks the last of her posts. (I mean, we've only got 3 days left. It had to happen sometime. . .) BUT, the good news is, Beth did a lot of legwork in rounding up all of the 2015 JAFF and Austenesque works she could find that are coming our way in 2015, WHICH MEANS, your to-read list just got a lot longer. 
Click through to check them out, find some new ones that might be right up your alley, and if you know of any that didn't make the Beth didn't find for her list, leave them in the comments!

Below are novels published in 2015 that are Jane Austen retellings, or otherwise connected to Jane Austen. Basically, "Austenesque":

A contemporary mystery revolving around a mysterious quest set forth by Jane Austen.

A whimsical collection of short stories inspired by Austen's works, revolving around summer.
Note from Misty: This may look familiar to you. . .

A re-imagining of Pride & Prejudice, with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as the maternal figure for the Bennet girls.
Note from Misty: This one, too. . . ahem

Dream Casting Austen: a colorful conversation

Okay, technically we touched on a version of this question last year, and technically a couple of our lovely Janeintes who are participating this year answered it last year. BUT we have some fresh blood this year, that didn't get to answer this question, and we mostly didn't really approach it the way we are this time, AND I frankly just like to ponder this from time to time, and was curious whether the answers would change. (Also, I forgot that we talked about it last year. I mean, it was only sort of -- we were talking about bad casting in Austen and just. . .whatever, we're talking about it again!).
So. I asked  . . .

Though there has never been (and probably will never be) a perfect cast in any Austen adaptation (there's always someone that falls flat, or that just does not suit the character), which one character do you think HAS been perfectly casted? And which one character would YOU perfectly cast (and with whom)?
MISTY: Alright, first up, I guess lets see if answers have changed at all. Maria and Cecilia? I believe last year, you weighed in on some characters you believed were either cast really well, or really poorly. Did that factor in this year?
MARIA: I (still) think that Ciaran Hinds was the perfect Captain Wentworth.
MISTY: Now, see, I just couldn't get past some things with him. That whole cast, in fact, was just too old and a little off to me. but Rupert Penry-Jones, on the other hand. . . Well, I already said we should start a movement to make him Wentworth from here on out.
CECILIA: Alicia Silverstone's Cher in Clueless is a perfectly cast modern Emma. When I defend Emma as my favorite Austen heroine, the linchpin of my argument is well-you-liked-Cher-didn't-you?
MISTY: Yes yes yes. Yes, yes yes yes!
CECILIA: My perfect casting pick? An I-Captured-the-Castle Henry Caville as Knightley.
MISTY: YES YES YES. Though he's kinda youngish. But then, maybe that'll help the Emma/Knightley relationship not squick me out quite so much.
CECILIA: There's even a clip of him making out with Romola Garai (Emma 2009) to get your imagination halfway there. :p

MISTY: Did I mention yes?
LISA: I thought Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of Mr. Bennet in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice was brilliant: we see an intelligent, handsome, affectionate man whose key flaw is a kind of destructive laziness.
And I mean, Donald Sutherland is basically perf, so. . . I think the chemistry, unspoken understanding and playfulness between him and Kiera is the first time I've seen a pair capture what I thought of as the Lizzie/Mr. Bennet relationship.
LISA: In an alternate universe, I’d love to see a young Meryl Streep play Elizabeth Bennet. (And with her real hair, not wearing a ghastly immobile wig like the one Jennifer Ehle sported in the A&E P&P.)
MISTY: OR in this universe, I could really go for her as Lady C. OMG, SOMEONE MAKE IT HAPPEN.
MARGARET: Well, Tom Hiddleston is my muse for Henry Tilney these days. I hear his voice when I write or read Henry's dialogue. I don't exactly "see" him in my head, but Henry-in-my-head is tall and lanky these days. It's not just that Tom Hiddleston is a nice-looking young man, but he's very Tilneyish. He's intelligent, well-read, and incredibly kind, and has a goofy sense of humor.
MISTY: Totally true!
MARGARET: Oh, and he's an excellent dancer--just like Henry.

MISTY: I never get sick of that. . .
MARGARET: I'm really looking forward to his upcoming film Crimson Peak, which is like if Northanger Abbey really were a Gothic novel instead of a parody of one. I have often thought Guillermo del Toro would be an awesome director for an adaptation of NA, so this is probably the closest we will ever get!

MISTY: Ooh, I hadn't watched the trailer yet! It is VERY Northanger!
MARGARET: I have often thought Guillermo del Toro would be an awesome director for an adaptation of NA, so this is probably the closest we will ever get!
LAURIE: One can never say it enough times: ColinFirthColinFirthColinFirth…And yet, His Royal Darcyness is not the only example of casting perfection.
MISTY: Though as a certain Amanda Price says, even Colin Firth wasn't Colin Firth. *winks*
LAURIE: Imogen Stubbs in the Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility is the quintessential Lucy Steele. We’re talking Lucifer in a bonnet. You can practically catch a whiff of brimstone as she plies her fan.
MISTY: I did really want to shake her. . .
LAURIE: The way she puts her arm through Elinor’s in fake sisterly affection and later through Edward’s when he tries to flee the room that contains his fiancée and the woman he loves gives me the shudders. She is the embodiment of just how diabolical the veneer of phony civility and social propriety can be. It’s enough to make me long for a claymation Celebrity Death Match between Elinor and Lucy.
MISTY:  Yes. Yes, someone do this thing, yes.
LAURIE: As for playing casting director, I think it would be great fun to see Anna Kendrick play Elizabeth Bennet in yet another adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Because there can never be too many of those.
MISTY: There never can! And she would bring a whole new audience/generation to it. And she'd certainly keep it interesting. Hmm. . . who would be her Darcy? You know what, why don't YOU guys weigh in on that in the comments! That could be a fun little game! =D

That's the last of the colorful Janeite conversations from JAFF writers this year! If you missed any, you can catch up on them here!
But keep an eye out, because we're not quite done yet -- I've got one last colorful conversation coming, from AIA readers!

Big thanks to:
Maria Grace, author of Mistaking Her Character, et al.
Cecilia Gray, author of The Jane Austen Academy series
Lisa Pliscou, author of Young Jane Austen
Margaret C. Sullivan, author of Jane Austen Cover to Cover, et al.
Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the Jane Austen Addict series

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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Friday Five: My Fave Minor Characters

At the beginning of this week, Sophia shared some of her favorite non-main characters from Austens novels; today you'll be hearing about mine, as part of. . .

I mentioned the other day that I think Austen's strength -- and the enduringness? But you know, something that's actually a word -- lies in her characters, and that doesn't just apply to the main characters. Or even the more prominent side characters: your Bingleys, your Thorpes, your multitudinous Janes. . . No, right down to the day players, Austen's characters are nothing if not memorable.
So rather than sing the praises of characters we've talked about again and again (I still love you, Crawfords! I don't care what anyone else says!), today, I'm talking about the minor characters. Not the sidekicks, but the people who show up and make us love them, even if they don't get a ton of page time, or aren't the main plot line.
William Price, Joseph Morgan, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
It doesn't hurt to look like Joseph Morgan . . .

1. William Lucas of Mansfield Park, who makes both my list and Sophia's. We really don't see William for very long at all, but he's never far from Fanny's thoughts, and it seems his sister is never far from his, either. In a book where the main character doesn't really have anywhere to turn, or much of anyone to turn to, William's comforting presence is a relief to both Fanny and the reader, and your left with an impression of a truly good, upstanding young man. I'm very sorry I had to kill him that one time; I don't know what I was thinking...

John Middleton, Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen
2. Sir John Middleton of Sense & Sensibility, the second character to make both my list and Sophia's. I mean, when you're right, you're right, and we are right. Sir John is the type of guy you want in your corner: he's there for the Dashwoods without a moments hesitation (in fact, without even the appearance of having hesitated -- help was needed, and it wasn't even a question that he would provide it). He never once lords his position (of wealth and circumstance, or the position of power that comes when one is beholden to you), over the ladies, and he goes out of his way to make them feel invited and welcomed. He and his family may enjoy a good tease, of course, but a jovial and good-natured ribbing is a small price to pay for such instant and unquestioning kind-heartedness.

3. Sir William Lucas of Pride & Prejudice. Of course, Sir William, again, is a good-natured and happy person who seems to only want those around him to be happy, too. He may overstep, but it never seems to be done out of any malice or officiousness -- more like he's an over-excited little boy who wants to show everyone his new toy, but also wants them to play with it. He's silly, but he's sweet.
source, because I couldn't resist sharing this.

4.  The Crofts. But also the Musgroves. Because I can. These two couples of Persuasion may have larger parts than the others, but being much older than the principals, they are, of course, relegated to the background. . . But what a stable, healthy background they make up! The Crofts and the Musgroves function as examples to Anne of marital happiness and strong, tight-knit family units, while ALSO showing that one doesn't have to be a pushover to maintain a happy atmosphere. They're an excellent example, but also just good people, and I love them.

5. Mr & Mrs Morland of Northanger Abbey. I mean, we really don't see much of the Morlands, but all of what we do see paints a picture of a sensible, rosy-cheeked and happy family. And the proof is in the pudding:
Catherine is allowed to play and explore and venture out, she's loved and trusted, and in turn she becomes a vibrant, happy, playful and joyful young woman who is loving and trusting (erm, mostly) in turn -- if a little prone to flights of fancy. . .

So there you have it! My 5 (sort of. Shut up.) favorite minor characters from all of Austen's novels, save Emma, 'cause we've talked about her plenty this year.
Let me know your fave characters and character-moments in the comments, whether main, side or minor!

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Giveaway: Custom Jane Austen Woodwork, from Noe & Cindy!

Noe & Cindy joined us last week to offer up chances to win their books Mr Darcy Falls In Love and The Sun Also Shines for Me (which you can go enter to win here); today they've returned to share another of their Austen-loving outlets: custom Austen woodworks!
They've offered up 3 sets of Austen woodworkings to 3 different winners, which you can see below. Check 'em out, leave 'em some love in the comments, and then enter to win to add these to your own Austen collection!

Faces not included. ;)
Noe & Cindy have offered up 3 Austenesque woodworked pieces for three (3) separate winners. Prizes are
  • Purple w/ gold rubbed accent "D♥rcy" earrings on French wires
  • Solid oak Pride & Prejudice word art filigree on a "Darcy & Lizzie" base. Can be displayed together on a desktop, or separately, as a wall hanging. [Base = ~10" long; P&P section is about 5.5" tall, 6" total with base]
  • Dark wood "P&P" earrings on surgical steel French hooks accented with copper and drop bead accent (with fresh water pearl, glass ball, and swarovski crystal)
This giveaway is open in the US only.
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. You MAY tell me in the comments or on the form which you'd prefer to win, and I will try to take that into account, but preference is not guaranteed.
Wood faces for display purposes only, and are not included (besides, you'll be putting the earrings in YOUR face. ;P )
Ends September 5th at 11:59 pm EST.
Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    On Austen. . .in August — guest post from Jenetta James!

    Tomorrow, I'll be telling you my thoughts on Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, a Pride & Prejudice what-if in which Elizabeth is forced to marry Darcy after a misunderstanding in which she appears to be "compromised" (and as weird as it is to say this: it's kinda one of my favorite what-if scenarios. I need to analyze that...). But TODAY, Jenetta is dropping in to talk to us about the idea of Austen in August. 
    Check it out below, let us know your thoughts in the comments, and make sure to stop by tomorrow for my review!

    There is nothing like 800 miles to focus the mind on otherwise unconsidered trifles, and that is exactly what I have been doing.  We have just completed that annual trip well known to many English travellers; trouping down to Portsmouth, hopping on the ferry and then snaking our way, car loaded, kids alternately sleeping and eating brioche, into France profond.
    The business of going on holiday has got me thinking what a very appropriate theme “Austen in August” is. And I am not just attracted by the alliteration. It goes much deeper than that. I realise now that without ever having properly thought it through, to me, Jane Austen is writer for the summer months- an author to take away from home.
    Maybe that owes something to having first discovered her works during long hot summer holidays when the new school term seemed a world away.
    Maybe also, it is associated with the novels themselves. For, in the whole Austen cannon, some of my favourite scenes and sequences are summer ones. Emma’s expedition to Box Hill for example, positively sweats with high summer heat. In Pride & Prejudice, it is Mr and Mrs Gardiner’s summer holiday which takes Elizabeth Bennet to Derbyshire and hence to Pemberley and ultimately to Mr Darcy.
    More than that, the places of Jane Austen are strongly redolent of holiday – of decamping – of seeking the freshness of a new sky. Think of the role of Lyme Regis and Bath in Persuasion and Brighton and Ramsgate in Pride & Prejudice. Austen uses the act of visiting new places, frequently in the summer, as a foil for action and development. It is no wonder, therefore, that she flicks the holiday switch in my mind. Thank you “Austen in August” for making me realise. Now, where is my sunhat…?

    Suddenly Mrs. Darcy by Jenetta James
    Get It | Add It
    200 pages
    Published April 2015 by Meryton Press
    Elizabeth Bennet never imagined her own parents would force her to marry a virtual stranger.

    But when Mrs. Bennet accuses Fitzwilliam Darcy of compromising her daughter, that is exactly the outcome. Trapped in a seemingly loveless marriage and far from home, she grows suspicious of her new husband’s heart and further, suspects he is hiding a great secret. Is there even a chance at love given the happenstance of their hasty marriage?

    Jenetta James is the nom de plume of a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. Suddenly Mrs Darcy is her first novel

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    Friday Face Off: Austen in August Style — guest post from Cecilia Gray!

    So far, Cecilia has made her opinions known in our Janeite conversations, showed us that P&P is always on beat, and shared some delicious Austen kisses (ooh, scandalous!) -- but today. . . today, she's starting a war.
    That's right, she's taking over Friday Face Off and asking our very own Austen gals to duke it out (via you, so get your (fancy, kid) gloves on) to find out who's the best of the best at doing what they do.
    Weird as what they do may be. . .

    If you're new to Misty's blog, Friday Face Off is her version Who Wore It Better, and we're going to do it Austen Style!
    Below are two sets of images, representing three of Austen's heroines. Images on the top are from British television adaptations. Images on the bottom are from studio films.
    There is no preset criteria – judge by who looks the part best, who you like the most, who is closest to your ideal, whatever and however you think that Austen's characters should be judged.
    Vote for your favorite on the comments!

    Round I: Elizabeth Bennet, looking wistful at the Ball in white
    Round II: Emma Woodhouse, looking quite smugly into the camera
    Round III: Marianne Dashwood, looking bedraggled and depressed in the rain

    Vote by letting us know your pick, in whichever way works for you (top/bottom; BBC/Hollywood; actress' name)!

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